The government’s initiative to drive take-up of public sector electronic services received a blow this week when an influential benchmarking study revealed that the UK has dropped to ninth in the global e-government league table.
The annual research, conducted by consulting firm Accenture, revealed that e-government is growing more slowly in the UK than other countries and that very few public sector websites offer full transactional capabilities.
Despite recent efforts by the Office of the E-envoy to improve performance of e-government services, Accenture warned that the UK’s “online future is still unclear”.
The study measures countries according to sophistication and transactional capability of the e-services offered and then ranks them under “maturity” scores.
“The UK’s maturity scores continue to be affected by the relatively small number of sites that offer full transactional capabilities and the constant struggle to manage interactions with customers (citizens and businesses) and deliver services in an integrated way,” the report said.
Take-up of e-government services in the UK continues to be an issue even with regular internet users, Accenture warned.
Among the UK internet users surveyed, 37% said they have never visited a government website, a number that is significantly higher than countries such as France, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
The incoming head of e-government, who will replace e-envoy Andrew Pinder, must focus on highlighting the real world value of using e-services, Accenture said.
“The e-government programme continues to come under scrutiny for its emphasis on getting as many services online as possible without clearly demonstrating the value of doing so,” the report said.
The study, first carried out in 2000, is based on results of a survey of 5,000 regular internet users in 12 countries in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as a quantitative assessment of the maturity of e-government services in 22 countries.